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  • this video was made possible by brilliant learn complex subjects intuitively for 20% off by going to brilliant orc slash real life floor.

  • So imagine that you're the captain of a boat with a lot of expensive cargo, but you're stuck in L.

  • A.

  • And you need to get over to New York.

  • You currently have two or maybe three options of getting there.

  • You could a take very long and somewhat dangerous route all the way down below South America be Take the also really long but extra zany and cold route up through the Canadian archipelago or C take the shortcut across Panama through the Panama Canal.

  • But depending on the size of your ship, this might not be an option for you.

  • The Panama Canal is only so wide and so deep, so if your ship is too big, you won't be allowed to cross, which means that you still have to choose between either option A or Option B, as people have done for hundreds of years now.

  • But what if there was another option, a Choice D.

  • The flow of international shipping and trade across the world is, for the most part, determined by Earth's geography and Earth's geography has certain limitations.

  • For example, there's an entire continent that kind of blocks the way between Europe and Asia, and there's two entire continents that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean.

  • Boats don't really travel through land, so you normally don't have any other choice but to travel around all of this land in order to get to the other sides.

  • But there's a few strategic areas around the world where it's theoretically possible to dig canals and create shortcuts between two sides of water.

  • Some of these have already been built, like the Kiel Canal that allows transportation between the Baltic and the North Sea without having to sail around Denmark or the Suez Canal that allows transportation between the Mediterranean and Red seas without having to sail all the way around Africa.

  • So in the Americas, there are three locations where canal shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific could theoretically be built that map geeks have been talking about for centuries.

  • They are the isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.

  • The narrow stretches of land in Nicaragua on either side of the big lake in the middle of the country, and Panama For hundreds of years, all three of these areas were used to transport supplies overland from one ship in the Atlantic to another ship in the Pacific.

  • But this was still quite inefficient.

  • The land was full of rainforest mosquitoes and dangerous animals like Jaguars that made the logistics of transporting supplies overland from one ship to another.

  • Pretty dangerous and hard to do Ah canal would change everything, and the easiest one to build was always going to be in Panama because it's the narrowest piece of land out of all of the three choices.

  • The Tehuantepec isthmus is 200 kilometers between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific.

  • The Nicaragua route is 153 kilometers across land between the Caribbean lake, Nicaragua and the Pacific, while the Panama route is only 80 kilometers long.

  • And so the United States finished constructing the Panama Canal in 1914, and it changed the way that trade flowed for ever afterwards, allowing ships to just hop over land instead of traveling all the way around South America.

  • But there was a bit of a problem that I mentioned earlier.

  • The Panama Canal wasn't built very wide, so Not all modern ships could get through.

  • Super big modern container ships aren't fitting in a canal that was built over a century ago, and so they all still have to take the long route around South America.

  • If a brand new canal could be built across one of the other two potential canal routes, it could be built up to modern standards with enough capacity for these big cargo ships, toe actually travel through.

  • This was the idea that came to the Chinese construction company HK N D.

  • In 2013 who entered into negotiations with the Nicaraguan government to construct a canal across the country.

  • That year, Nicaragua gave H K N D a 50 year concession to build the canal and operated with the potential to be extended for another 50 years afterwards.

  • If it was built, this would have effectively given China a century of control over one of the most important strategic locations in the world for international trade.

  • Later on in the 20 twenties, growth and international trade is expected to cause significant congestion and delay issues in the Panama Canal.

  • So in 2013, the Panama Canal was simply not expected to be large enough to accommodate that increased demand in trade and shipping that would occur later on through the 21st century.

  • So the construction of another canal in the area to handle the higher demand appeared to be logical, and H k N d could just smell the opportunity.

  • The plan was rather straightforward.

  • HK N D would begin by constructing opposite ports on the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Nicaragua that could handle large container ships.

  • Work would then begin on the first short portion of the canal between the Pacific and Lake Nicaragua.

  • A channel would be dug into the bottom of the lake to allow larger cargo ships to travel through it.

  • And then the second portion of the canal would be built from Lake Nicaragua out to the Caribbean, where, after the two ports would be adapted into international shipping ports.

  • On either side.

  • However, there were so many rich, ridiculous problems associated with the project that it's hard to even talk about all of them in such a short video.

  • First of all, the cost of the project was estimated to be around 40 billion dollars by H K N D and H K nd never put forward a very clear case for how, exactly they plan to come up with that much money.

  • And neither did Nicaragua, for that matter.

  • The billionaire owner of H K nd lost 80% of his net worth in the 2015 Chinese stock market crash, just two years after H K nd and Nicaragua came to their agreement to actually build the canal.

  • Nicaragua claimed that the project would create a quarter of a million jobs inside of the country and that it would lead to Nicaragua becoming a first world country, while H.

  • K N.

  • D, on the other hand, suggested that it would only create around 50,000 jobs and that at least half of those would just be workers imported from China.

  • H K nd was further given the authority to expropriate land from Nicaraguan citizens around the canal construction site, which would have led to the expulsion and relocation of around 100 1000 people in the country or, in other words, about 1.5% of all Nicaraguans.

  • Needless to say, that wasn't exactly very popular with the 1.5% of the population that was getting forcibly relocated and then there's all of the potentially catastrophic environmental issues.

  • Lake Nicaragua is the largest source of fresh water for all of Central America.

  • And well, introducing the lake to a canal that's connected to the salty ocean would be bad enough.

  • But imagine the potential disaster that could happen if a oil tanker moving through the canal happened to have a spill in the middle of the largest source of fresh water.

  • For 47 million people, 4/100 1000 hectares of rainforest were going to be destroyed.

  • That included the habitats of at least 22 endangered species, not to even mention the disruption caused in the migration routes of countless other species.

  • Many people considered the Nicaragua Canal's construction to be an environmental catastrophe, But the ultimate reasons for why it failed were economic ones.

  • Not only did HK MDs billionaire owner, lose 80% of his net worth in a single bad year of financial losses, but the Panama Canal initiated an expansion project of their own that concluded in 2016 that doubled the canal's capacity for ships.

  • Now all but the absolute biggest of ships in the world can fit through the Panama Canal, which made the prospect of blowing 40 billion bucks on another canal in Nicaragua a much harder pill to swallow.

  • Eventually, H k nd entered into severe financial difficulties themselves, and in 2018 they shut down their home office in China without leaving any address or telephone number for anybody in Nicaragua or anywhere else to contact them at no construction on the canal ever began.

  • And it's looking like at this rate, it's probably never actually gonna happen unless some other crazy company comes around with $40 billion to blow on something that might not even work out that well.

  • None of this was even considering the fact that actually digging and filling hundreds of miles of canals through the rainforest with tropical diseases like yellow fever and malaria would be a massively difficult project to complete, even with the money.

  • It's unbelievable to think about this today, but around 43 1000 workers actually died over the course of the construction of the Panama Canal due to tropical diseases in the area.

  • Can you imagine even 10% of those deaths being acceptable to a modern construction company?

  • It's absolutely wild, so insane costs would have to be put into developing the area in Nicaragua, around the canal with modern hospitals and trained medical staff.

  • In addition to all the other necessary construction in labor costs, the project is ultimately one of the most insane construction projects ever proposed.

  • During the 21st century, it would have changed the shape of the world forever.

  • But in the end, at least for now, it seems like we just don't really need it.

  • Something that everybody needs, though, is a better understanding of math and science and how they relate to our everyday lives.

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  • It's the perfect way to learn a little something new every day without it ever feeling stressful or overwhelming so to start trying out the daily challenges and to learn more about brilliant, go ahead and click the link down in the description or go to brilliant dot org's slash real life floor.

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  • And it's always thank you for watching.

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B1 canal nicaragua panama construction pacific lake

The Insane Chinese Plan to Build a Canal Across Nicaragua

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/29
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